By Peter Egwuatu
Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (CMAN) has denounced calls by some manufactures that there should be outright ban on importation of cement, rather asked that the Federal Government should strictly implement the 2002 backward integration policy in which cement import licences be granted only to importers who show proof of building factories for local cement manufacturing in the country. But Aliko Dangote had petitioned the President on the need to ban cement importation which as a result the President Directed the Ministry of Finance to raise a panel to look into the matter. Prelude to setting up the panel, the Minister of Finance called a stakeholders meeting to gather input.
The Executive Secretary of CMAN, Mr.James A. Salako who reacted to report on a recent meeting of stakeholders in the cement industry hosted by the Minister of Finance, Mr. Mansur Mukthar said there was no time that the local manufacturers had demanded for a ban on cement importation.
To that extent, he said, â€œ The CMAN has at every forum and opportunity consistently expressed its support for the import needed to bridge the gap between national demand and what the local manufacturers can supply to the market at any point in time. And this remains our position.â€
Explaining further on the stakeholders meeting Saloko said, â€œ The recent publications came after a stakeholders forum organised by the Honourable Minister of Finance who had invited representatives of both manufacturers and importers to deliberate on how to revitalise our local cement manufacturing industry.
Throughout that meeting, at no time was there any request by any cement manufacturer for a ban on importation of cement. Indeed, Nigeriaâ€™s two largest importers of cement also happen to be local manufacturers of cement, and so cement manufacturers couldnâ€™t have been asking for a ban on cement imports, considering their own investments in cement terminals.â€
According to him â€œ The major position taken by the manufacturers was their demand that the Federal government go back to strict implementation of its 2002 backward integration policy that required that cement import licences be allocated only to importers who show proof of building factories for local cement manufacturing in Nigeria. The spirit of this policy is to rapidly expand Nigeriaâ€™s cement production capacities and thereby accelerate the realization of self-sufficiency in this critical product in which the nation has comparative advantage.
This is a position we believe should receive the support of all well meaning patriotic Nigerians. Cement manufacturers have never opposed importation to fill the current shortfall in supply. We however believe that importation should be done along with consistent strict implementation of the backward integration policy that will ultimately bring us out of our present perpetual dependence on imports.â€
Commenting further on the need to adopt the backward integration policy , the Executive Secretary said, â€˜ Absence of such policy between 1980 and 2001 resulted only in loss of cement production capacity and no single addition to cement production facility in the nation. But since the introduction of the backward integration policy in 2002, Nigeria has seen the addition of two new cement plants and reactivation of a third one with the contribution of locally manufactured cement rising from 25.5% (2.07Million Metric Tones) of the total supply in 2002 toÂ 47% (6.06Million Metric Tones )Â in 2008.â€